Hue is a great definition of art through simplicity. The game feels continually relaxed and slow-paced allowing me to toy around with the puzzles in a liberating way – I was left wanting more of Hue’s artistic world, a little too much more.
Hue is definitively a puzzle game before its a platformer, whilst there are dotted Limbo-esque sections of perfectly timed jumping and colour changes, the true meat of the game takes place on a much quieter plane. Hue’s complex puzzle rooms fill the majority of it’s 5-7 hours – these were slow affairs that had me altering the environment around me with the colour mechanic in various ways. The fast paced sections were easily the highlight of the experience for me as the music swelled from a relaxed piano overture adding intensity to the moment to moment gameplay. Unfortunately these sections were lacking and towards the end of the game new ideas were amiss (I saw 2 or 3 variations of having to climb a level whilst dodging oncoming rocks.
Some of the puzzle design is amazingly well crafted though, every level has objects in them for a specific reason. Further in the game you start to face new challenges such as lasers, switches and colour changing paint – when these start to combine Hue offers some of it’s best and most fascinating gameplay. Some of the best levels take place in huge expanses of space requiring carefully placed jumps and meticulous planning, while some of them also take place in cramped rooms forcing the player to alter their position and colour perspective to advance. This variation in scale is a theme throughout and despite the simplistic aesthetic the game manages to induce a sense of grandeur as I explored the latter stages. One particular example of this is found in the giant pyramids which housed new colour segments. Platforming in the game can feel quite floaty at times, this doesn’t lead to much frustration though as objects in the game don’t really react to gravity in the way I’d expect – wooden blocks will only fall if there is absolutely nothing below them.
The presentation in Hue is beautifully executed from the design of the world and the way it interacts and overlays your character at times to the sound of Hue trudging along in the snow everything was immersive and felt alive – even Hue’s hair bounced around as he walked across the screen. The game’s story is told through voice acted letters which are picked up around the environment – this is done to mixed success. Voice acting for the story sections is well done and unique and towards the end of the game I began feeling sympathy towards Hue’s mother and the other characters involved. However storytelling segments are told during levels without any challenge or puzzles or even basic platforming – meaning these sections of the game simply have Hue walking forward while the story is narrated. On top of this I felt the ending really fell flat and didn’t answer many of the questions I had about the world – it was as if the game just ended.
As you can see from my review so far this game was frustrating – the colour mechanic was incredibly well realised and easily had the capability to translate into a fantastic challenging puzzle platformer. But instead the game feels like a series of tutorials as to how the mechanic works and only on one occasion was I legitimately challenged by a puzzle (one level in the university I was previously shown in a preview event). I don’t want to be writing this review right now – I want to be playing more of Hue – but there is no more to play. The game had the potential to stand amongst Limbo as challenging and unique but instead it falls into the trap of being too easy to complete. The game lacks lasting appeal as well. Finding the 28 vials dotted around the world encourage revisiting locations in the game world and some of these vials are cleverly hidden by puzzles requiring a new set of colours or to tackle a puzzle room from the opposite direction. But too many of them are located at the end of slightly hidden corridors or simply locked away behind a colour I hadn’t unlocked yet. There were no added challenges to the game – nothing to promote replaying and not even a compelling trophy list to keep me interested – even though I desperately wanted more.
Despite all of this I still recommend Hue, it’s a great puzzle game with some really good ideas and I always prefer wanting more of a game and doing everything there is to do over getting burnt out and not finishing it at all. I hope the game is continually supported after launch because it deserves more content than what it has at the moment.